William has developed a love of camouflage and all things military related. When we were in South Carolina a few months ago, my mother bought him an army helmet and camouflage pants at a thrift store. For school, he picked out a camouflage backpack. When Charlie was recently making a drop-off at the Salvation Army and saw that someone had just turned in a camouflage jacket - he snatched it up for $3.00, and gave it to William. This week, William dug some money out of his piggy bank to buy dog tags at the school book fair. For his birthday, I finally caved in and bought him a rainbow laser. Seeing as it was camouflage, I thought that it completed his ensemble, nicely.
Today, William, dressed from head to toe in his military gear, climbed in to the back of Charlie's truck and set up a bunker. He had his backpack loaded with various supplies and rations, and he was curled up with a good book - watching over us as we were raking the yard. Soon, some of the neighborhood kids came over to play and William slowly climbed out to join them. He didn't rush out, because he was perfectly happy where he was. But upon my urging, he exited to run around and play with the boys. They retreated down to the creek, and within a few minutes, William came up the hill crying. One of the boys told him that he looked stupid dressed like an army guy. Wrestling ensued and the boy picked up William's brand new gun and snapped it over his knee. The gun is still intact, but the hairline crack is obvious. William was crushed.
That was more than an hour ago.
Since then, I've talked to the boy and let him know how that toy was William's #1 birthday gift and it is NOT okay to go over to people's houses and break their toys. I tried to have him apologize to William - but William won't let him come near, without running in the opposite direction. William has been hiding in his room, crying, while the boy who has moved on from the situation, is running around the yard with the rest of the kids who are all immune to their brother's deep hurt. I've told William that when he is able, we'll go over and talk to the boy's parents and let them know what happened. I'm not interested in them replacing the gun (it wasn't that expensive) - but I'd definitely want to know if my child intentionally broke another child's toy. Especially if it was their coveted birthday present. I've also told William that he has two choices in how to respond.
1. Carry a grudge and cry all day, never forgetting this moment.
2. Forgive the boy, go outside and enjoy the beautiful day - and next time, put his favorite toys away.
While he's pondering this advice, I'm wondering if there's something else I should be doing? But what? Send the boy home? Ban him for life from playing in our yard? Tell William to not play with him anymore? Recognize that kids are kids and kids do things like this and this is how they learn?
William is looking to me to make this situation right. And I'm looking to MY mother. I'm sure I'd know the answer to all of those questions and so much more if my mother was home, but apparently, she's out busy today because all I'm getting is her voicemail.